Trend Report: Counters You Can Cook On, Bold Colored Appliances, and Stylish Sinks

Every year designers take a pilgrimage to get schooled on the top trends in kitchen and bath industry at a huge event called KBIS (sounds like K-Biz). This year’s show was in Las Vegas at the same time as another biggie — the International Builders’ Show.

Designers Wendy Albee and Cathy Briskorn of Albee Interior Design in Bothell (named Best of 425by readers several times) headed to the show earlier this year and filled their phones with photos and their minds with ideas. They talked trends with us and shared some of their pics of the cool things they saw, and you will be seeing more of this year.

All Photos Courtesy Cathy Briskorn.

What was the most exciting trend you saw for kitchen appliances?

Colors, definitely, but also just a wider range of choices across the board. It seems as if every appliance manufacturer is offering products in a wider range of finishes, including matte finishes and fingerprint-resistant stainless steel, so even buyers who are leery of adding too much color can still find ways to personalize their kitchens. We also saw more customization in other ways as well, such as with modularrefrigerators that have zones that can be set to different temperatures for specific uses. We love options! Our goal is always to create designs that are unique to each client, so we’re never doing the same thing twice, and even something as simple as a matte black refrigerator can add a personal touch to a kitchen design. More on personalizing your kitchen here.

Talk to us about sinks, awesome aprons, and more!

This is just another way to add unique personality to a utilitarian aspect of your kitchen, without a long-term commitment. Our KBIS newsletter showed a Kohler sink with an interchangeable apron, but the appliance trend article linked above shows another option, the Elkay Crosstown. We would love it if all of our clients were brave enough to go with fun colors and bold patterns, but most people worry about making design choices that are too personal. They think they’ll either get tired of the strong design, or that it will have a negative effect on the future resale value of their home (even if they have no plans to put their house on the market). Interchangeable components let them have fun with color and pattern but still have the option of changing it out without having to go through a major kitchen remodel. Another way to have fun with color is with cabinets. Check this out.

Tell us about toilets.

We saw so many black toilets! The funny thing is, we have clients right now who are remodeling a powder room that has a funky ’80s design with a black lacquer vanity cabinet, a bright red sink, and a black toilet. We told them that black toilets are coming back in style, and the husband was actually tempted to keep the bathroom as it is. Unfortunately, their existing toilet really needs to be replaced with a newer, low-flow model, and we weren’t able to convince the wife to go with another black toilet as a replacement.

Tell us about surfaces – especially what’s new in counter trends.

We’ve been seeing these large-scale “porcelain” — actually ultra-compacted sinterized-particle — slabs for a while now (Dekton is one major brand), but we haven’t had an opportunity to use them yet. We were amazed at KBIS by how many different porcelain slab options are on the market, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see this become the next big trend in countertops. Again, it comes down to options: The slabs are made by mixing natural materials and firing them at ultra-high temperatures, so they can be made in a huge range of colors and textures. They’re also offered in a variety of thicknesses, so they can be used not just on countertops, but also on walls and floors. They don’t contain any resins (unlike quartz), so they’re highly resistant to staining, scratching, UV light, and heat. In fact, they’re so heat-resistant that we saw several examples of the countertops being used as cooktops — as in, people were actually cooking right on the countertop! In some cases, an induction unit was installed out of sight below the countertop; in other cases, gas burners and knobs were mounted directly in the countertop. We did a Facebook post on this while we were at the show. See that here.

What else surprised you two, or got you excited about trends at KBIS?

There truly was something for everyone at the show, and we were excited to see such a willingness to experiment with colors, materials, textures, shapes, and finishes. We saw everything from a bathroom faucet and a light fixture both made of concrete, to bathroom countertops made of leather and wood. And for both of us, our favorite product was the colorful large-format glass Vetrite slabs we saw in the SICIS booth. They were colorful and eye-catching, and looked even more beautiful when they were backlit. Now we just need the right client and the right project to come along so we can use them!


is the editor in chief at 425 magazine.
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